Sports medicine staff advises Paschal to no longer play football

North Carolina senior linebacker Mark Paschal, the team's leading tackler, suffered a cervical spine injury on Saturday in the Tar Heels' loss to NC State and the UNC sports medicine staff advised that he no longer play football, the university announced Tuesday.

Paschal was examined on the sideline in the second half and had an MRI on Sunday. He is expected to make a full recovery with no long-term effects.

This is a devastating loss for Paschal and his team, as Paschal has not missed a game in his career and is currently the Tar Heels' leading tackler with 103.

"Our first concern is the health of Mark Paschal," UNC coach Butch Davis stated in a release. "Our sports medicine staff has assured him and his parents that he will make a complete recovery. Mark has had a terrific senior season, has been a great leader for us, and is on track to graduate in May. I appreciate how hard he has worked over the last two years to re-energize our program. Mark will continue to be an important part of our team for the remainder of the season."

This had arguably been Paschal's best season of his career. He had 6.5 tackles for losses, two sacks, two interceptions, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Paschal, a native of Charlotte, was born a Tar Heel fan. His father, Doug, played at UNC from 1976-79. His mother, Jeanne, is also a Carolina grad.

Heather Dinich covers ACC football for ESPN.com.